Perfect Strangers
December 16, 2009

In the popular imagination, the United States and Europe are assumed to be radically opposing poles--"Mars" and "Venus"--on issues such as market regulation, public education, social policy, health care, crime, and the environment. But is that really the case? The numbers would suggest otherwise. My book, The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe are Alike, presents quantifiable data on a wide array of social conditions on each side of the Atlantic.

An Unexceptional Nation
December 16, 2009

Neocons have begun to warm to Barack Obama’s foreign policy vision. What they’ve liked about his recent speeches (at West Point, but far more so in Oslo) is his willingness to defend (against the anti-political pacifism that dominates a segment of elite European opinion) the idea that there can be morally justified wars—and that the war in Afghanistan is one of them. I’m delighted that some on the American right have come around to supporting the president, but they should do so knowing that on one crucially important matter Obama will never satisfy them.

Audi Wants You To Know That You Can (Still) Have It All
December 14, 2009

  Pity Audi: These days, the feds seem to be lavishing most of their attention (and money) on near-bankrupt Detroit automakers, foreign car companies benefitting from cash for clunkers, or upstarts promising newfangled batteries. And that's left Audi straining to attract Washington's attention. So, last year, the 100-year-old German company moved its U.S. corporate headquarters from Detroit to Northern Virginia, started hosting swank policy soirees, and sponsored Obama’s inauguration, the Symphony, the Washington Ideas Festival, and the Redskins. Why so little notice?

Today at TNR (December 14, 2009)
December 14, 2009

Here’s How We Rid Ourselves of the Filibuster. Finally. by Nicholas Stephanopoulos The Ungreening of America: Three Reasons Why Americans Are Caring Less and Less About the Environment by Ed Kilgore Did Joe Lieberman Double-Cross Harry Reid by Jonathan Cohn What Will It Take for Europe to Get Over Its Obama Malaise? by E.J. Dionne Jr. It’s a Nice Thought, but Can a Society Really Distribute Wealth Fairly?

How the Bailouts Dumped Risk Onto Taxpayers
December 14, 2009

Here's a nice illustration from the European Central Bank's Jacob Ejsing and Wolfgang Lemkeon of how markets interpreted government rescue packages for banks across Europe: The chart shows how the premia on credit default swaps for governments (i.e., the cost of insurance on government debt) shot up while premia for banks dipped over a tumultuous week in October 2008 when a host of rescue measures were introduced. After the crisis's peak, sovereign CDS were much more responsive than bank CDS to news about the health of financial markets.

Obama's Tough Love
December 11, 2009

The bailout of the auto industry was “throwing bad money after a bad cause,” television talk show host Larry Kudlow warned in National Review. Kudlow’s opinion was shared by conservative economists and politicians. And Tea Party types continue to cite the auto bailout as an example of the Obama administration’s unwarranted largesse toward big business and big labor.  But if you compare how the Obama administration handled General Motors and Chrysler with how European leaders dealt with a similar crisis in their industry, Obama’s approach looks tougher and more realistic. That’s at least the ve

‘There Is No Simple Formula Here’
December 11, 2009

President Obama gave a pretty good speech when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe it was a little too eloquent. I don’t much like soaring rhetoric; I know there are times to soar, but Obama does it, or tries to do it, every time. Plain speech is also useful, and there was some plain speech in Norway—particularly the reiterated insistence, directed, I think, to our European friends, that sometimes making war is the only way to a just peace.

How to Save Detroit
December 09, 2009

For much of the United States, Detroit has become shorthand for failure--not just because of the dilapidation of the town’s iconic industry, but because the entire metropolis seems like a dystopian disaster.

It’s Always Snowing on the Drudge Report
December 09, 2009

Is a “record cold” in Idaho threatening your potato crops? Never fear, Matt Drudge will post a link. Snowing in Houston? Drudge has the scoop! Blizzard delaying your flight out of JFK? You get the picture. Drudge’s climate denialism is well known, but his tendency to cite is, well, odd. Here’s a look at part of yesterday’s homepage:  Drudge links to weather reports a lot, and seemingly more in the fall and spring, when it should be cold outside but not that cold.

Will Iranian Sanctions Work?
December 08, 2009

With no signs of cooperation from Tehran and Obama's year-end deadline approaching, the administration is pushing for new sanctions against Iran starting in January. For a better understanding of the sanctions situation, check out these recent TNR pieces: In "Over a Barrel," David Makovsky and Ed Morse argue that the current sanctions being considered are unlikely to have much effect:   The only effective option for seriously limiting its gasoline imports is to impose a naval blockade on Iranian ports, which should only be undertaken, if needed, after proper and complete preparation.